So you own a pet tiger. Where can you live?

In light of last week's Ohio animal-farm tragedy, states may be cracking down on ownership of 'exotic' pets — if they haven't already.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Oct 25, 2011 1:31PM

Homeowners associations, landlords and other housing authorities often field pet questions from prospective buyers and renters. Can we keep a dog? How many cats are too many cats?

© Joel Sartore/National Geographic/Getty Images

And what about Ladainian, my 40-pound Canadian lynx?

After the owner of a Zanesville, Ohio, farm released 56 lions, tigers and other wild animals last year— resulting in the deaths of 49 animals as well as the owner, of an apparent suicide — many communities are focusing on if and how a similar event could happen there. Often, it comes down to state and local pet laws. The Agriculture Department does not regulate pets, though zoos and wildlife sanctuaries fall under its jurisdiction.


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The Humane Society has issued a call to numerous state governments to ban all exotic animals as pets. Ohio Gov. John Kasich already has signed an executive order allowing more arrest powers over animal owners, though a law prohibiting sales of exotic animals expired earlier this year.

The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, compiled this handy grid detailing the animal laws in each state. So if you're thinking more Siberian tiger than Shih Tzu, look to the South.

Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia join Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin as the only states to allow exotic pets, no questions asked. Other states, such as Arizona and Missouri, require permits for owning animals such as anacondas, capuchin monkeys and the like. Illinois and Washington state are among the 17 states, plus the District of Columbia, to ban them outright.

In some cases, homes on park or reservation land could be exempt from the state's animal laws.

So how many of these animals are a part of U.S. households? According to the California-based Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, it breaks down like this:

  • Great apes and similar primates: 3,000 or more
  • Big cats, such as lions, tigers and panthers: 10,000 to 20,000
  • Reptiles, such as venomous snakes: 8.8 million
  • Birds: 17.3 million

Of course, with only some states requiring licenses for these animals, most of those numbers are estimates. Often, wild-animal ownership may only come to light when tragedy occurs.

"In recent years, several incidents have of been reported of people who have died or suffered injuries because the state hasn’t exhibited the foresight to stop private citizens from keeping dangerous wild animals as pets or as roadside attractions, and the situation gets more surreal with every new incident, including this mass escape or release of large animals in Ohio," says Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society's president and CEO, in a release.

The Humane Society names Nevada, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Oklahoma as the five most lax states when it comes to regulating wild-animal ownership. And no, it did not mention the Las Vegas tiger scenes from "The Hangover" in its rundown.

— Tony Stasiek is a producer/editor at MSN Real Estate.


Oct 26, 2011 2:45PM
Shoot, in Midland Mi, forget about Tigers, lions, etc. They won't let us have back yard Chickens!!!!

Oct 26, 2011 2:09PM
all animals belong outside not just lions and tigers
Oct 26, 2011 2:00PM
wild animals belong in the wild. we need to take better care of the earth and stop destroying their habitats. WILD ANIMALS ARE NOT PETS! THEY BELONG FREE!
Oct 26, 2011 1:58PM
Exotic animals are NOT pets! They have not been domesticated for millenia as have dogs and horses. They're all really cute when they're babies. But, they grow up to be large, WILD creatures. A baby chimpanzee is adorable. But when that chimp becomes an adult, it will be 5 times stronger than an adult human. People don't understand the damage they are capable of. The only place for exotic animals, outside of their natural habitat, is in a zoo, where they can be admired, and educate people, and they will receive proper diet and care. Vets have to specialize in exotic animals if they are to be affiliated with a zoo. Good heavens, educate yourselves. It's not about IF you can afford them or more taxes on them, etc... These fools put their lives and the lives of their neighbors in jeopardy!
Oct 26, 2011 1:52PM

The truth is these animals are ill-suited to captivity.  They haven't been bred for it over many generations like domestic animals and many of these exotic keeper wannabes have inadequate facilities or training to properly care for them like zoos or wildlife parks.


If you're dead set on exhibiting your manhood by keeping a tiger, then perhaps we should license these individuals to ensure they can keep the animal without endangering either it or us.

Oct 26, 2011 1:48PM
It's a shame that people, who seemed to me no better than the poachers' of wild animals.  So, I guess the answer to your questions is "NO!"  There's always the few who make it bad for the ones who truly care and respect these beautiful creatures.   Now there is over 50 animals who lost there lives for on sick mental case.  It makes me very sick!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
Oct 26, 2011 1:43PM


Oct 26, 2011 1:26PM

Wild animals belong in the wild.  We need to do our part to keep their nature habitats safe.  Let wild animals live where they are born.  Stop destroying our country with by breeding dangerous animals.

Oct 26, 2011 12:43PM

If you have enough money to buy a computer you should obviously pay more in taxes.  By God, its not like you worked for the money to buy it or anything its obviously been handed to you. 


So lets get this straight Scotty, they used money thats been taxed already to buy the home.  They use money thats been taxed to buy the animals and everything needed, therefore by doing this they THEN are obligated to pay more in taxes?  What the hell is the logic?  I already know yours, "they must have disposable income."  They must be more of those "rich greedy bastards" ruining the country enh? 


Its no different then anyone else pursuing something passionately, they end up dedicating their lives to it - you'd probably have someone tax their Comic Book Collection if they made anything substantial off it. 



Oct 26, 2011 12:39PM
Oct 26, 2011 12:38PM

The most dangerous, destructive and horrible creature is man and those animal rights wack-a-doodles that most likely killed that man and let his animals go (I'm sure they have lots of money to pay off law enforcement, they didn'y look like the brightest bunch of people, just like that guy that owned the bear in Ohio that was found hundcuffed and bound and the cops said it was suicide). It is their way to push outlawing exotics (they've been trying for the past two years) and drawing negative attention at the expense of the animals and people. As Born Free had said "We'd rather see the animals dead than in captivity."

I work at a public zoo and beleive me they will kill until they make their point. Both human and animals. This is just the beginning!

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